Slideshow: 12 Burgers with Unusual Toppings That Really Work

First Base Burger at Hopscotch, Oakland
First Base Burger at Hopscotch, Oakland

Unusual ingredient: beef tongue. "Unctuous, salty, and tender, the tongue deepens the beefy richness of the burger, while adding a decadent oomph of texture and flavor. A decidedly unexpected topping, the tongue skyrocketed this burger to over-the-top amazing levels, without doing so in an overbearing, flavor-dominating way (see: grinding bacon into your beef)." —Lauren Sloss, San Francisco correspondent

Hopscotch review »

1915 San Pablo Ave., Oakland CA 94612 (map); 510-788-6217; hopscotchoakland.com

[Photograph: Wes Rowe]

Dad's Waffle at Buttermilk Kitchen, Atlanta
Dad's Waffle at Buttermilk Kitchen, Atlanta

Unusual ingredients: maple syrup and butter. "Instead of the more common slap-an-egg-under-the-bun-and-call-it-a-breakfast-burger approach, Dad's Waffle brings the burger to the breakfast by topping Buttermilk Kitchen's sourdough waffle with a huge burger patty, gracing it with a pat of house butter, and serving it with maple syrup. I know. It's a burger on a waffle. Surprisingly simple in its construction. But Dad's Waffle is superb in its execution." —Todd Brock, Atlanta correspondent

Buttermilk Kitchen review »

4225 Roswell Road, Atlanta GA 30342 (Map); 678-732-3274; buttermilkkitchen.com

[Photograph: Todd Brock]

Chorizo Burger at The Blind Burro, San Diego
Chorizo Burger at The Blind Burro, San Diego

Unusual ingredients: chorizo and grilled poblano peppers. "The creamy Oaxaca cheese was perfectly melted, the poblano peppers were legitimately spicy, the house-made chorizo—arguably the star of the burger—was smoky, and the lively cilantro pesto mayo brought the whole thing together. This isn't a burger tinged with Mexican flavors, it's a full-on flavor assault. You might want to wear a neck brace." —Erin Jackson, San Diego correspondent/AHT Contributing Editor

The Blind Burro review »

639 J Street, San Diego CA 92101 (map); 619-795-7880; theblindburro.com

[Photograph: Erin Jackson]

Country Boy/Gal Burger at School Yard Bar and Grill, Milwaukee
Country Boy/Gal Burger at School Yard Bar and Grill, Milwaukee

Unusual ingredients: pulled achiote-seasoned duck, roasted corn relish, adobo sauce. "The duck was tender and succulent, the texture of a soft pulled pork. The thick adobo sauce added tang and a mild spice to cut through the richness of the duck. The corn relish and a sprinkling of queso fresco were largely unnoticeable on the burger, but they added a visual appeal to all that annatto-stained food." —Lacey Muszynski, Milwaukee correspondent

School Yard Bar and Grill review »

1815 East Kenilworth Place, Milwaukee WI 53202 (map); 414-291-8990; schoolyardmke.com/

[Photograph: Lacey Muszynski]

Burganator! at Stonefly Brewery, Milwaukee
Burganator! at Stonefly Brewery, Milwaukee

Unusual ingredient: beer cheese sauce. "The sauce was thicker than most, and—if it weren't for my cutting in half for photos—it was nicely contained in a couple stacked rings of deep fried onion. That's the biggest complaint I've had with other burgers with cheese sauce: the sauce runs all over and there's none left on the burger. Not so in this case." —Lacey Muszynski, Milwaukee correspondent

Stonefly Brewery review »

735 E Center St, Milwaukee WI 53212 (map); 414-212-8910; stoneflybrewery.com

[Photograph: Lacey Muszynski]

Fergburger with Cheddar at Fergburger, Queenstown, New Zealand
Fergburger with Cheddar at Fergburger, Queenstown, New Zealand

Unusual ingredient: tomato relish. "[The fillings] all fused together into a beautiful whole of burger-friendly flavors: the pliant, chewy bread; the fresh crunch of lettuce-tomato-onion; the sharp punch of cheddar cheese; the creamy sweetness of the aioli (which, thankfully, was not overwhelmingly applied); and the smokey, almost barbecue-sauce-esque note from the tomato relish. The cheese could have been applied more uniformly, but ultimately, I deem these burger accoutrements to be pretty damn successful." —Lauren Sloss, San Francisco correspondent

Fergburger review »

42 Shotover Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand (map); +64 3-441 1232; fergburger.com

[Photograph: Lauren Sloss]

Southern Hospitality Burger at Big Gun Burger, Charleston, SC
Southern Hospitality Burger at Big Gun Burger, Charleston, SC

Unusual ingredients: all things Southern (pimento cheese, a fried green tomato, chow chow). "The Southern trio of condiments (pimento cheese, fried green tomato and chow chow—a pickled relish made of chopped green tomato and onion, not a lionesque pooch) were so well-executed and well-balanced that it was downright magical. Crunchy components like the smoky bacon and green tomato two ways (fried and pickled) contrasted nicely with the thick and chewy patty-like portion of pimento cheese spread on the top bun." —Erin Jackson, San Diego correspondent/AHT Contributing Editor

Big Gun Burger review »

137 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29401 (map); 843-789-3821; bigguncharleston.com

[Photograph: Erin Jackson]

PB&J Burger at West Egg Cafe, Atlanta
PB&J Burger at West Egg Cafe, Atlanta
Unusual ingredients: pimiento cheese and tomato jam. "Each component works beautifully on its own: the rich pimiento cheese oozing everywhere, the crisp and salty bacon offering a vital textural contrast, and the tomato jam proving itself to be the real superstar. Sweeter than you'd expect, it pulls the whole package together and is actually the thing that makes you sit up and take notice of the PB&J." —Todd Brock, Atlanta correspondent

West Egg Cafe review »

1100 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta GA 30318 (Map); 404-872-3973; westeggcafe.com

[Photograph: Todd Brock]

Faux Poutine Burger at Wiener and Still Champion, Evanston, IL
Faux Poutine Burger at Wiener and Still Champion, Evanston, IL

Unusual ingredients: chicken-fried gravy and french fries. What happens when a seasoned beef patty meets aioli, tangy cheese spread, a "patty" of deep-fried gravy and a heap of french fries? A "mountain of a meal" that's worth checking out at least once, says former Chicago correspondent, Daniel Zemans.

Weiner and Still Champion review »

802 Dempster, Evanston IL 60202 (map); 847-869-0100‎; wienerandstillchampion.com

[Photograph: Daniel Zemans]